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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 18, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EST

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the land. people>> with nearly 10 millio, do you collect biometric information? >> we do not. >> it is such a mess and a disaster. >> i will be brief. i will try to be as quick as i can. based on earlier testimony, a finance -- fiancee visa is classified like an immigrant visa. is that correct? screen and test must an applicant pass? because it is treated like an
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immigrant visa. this is an individual we expect remain permanently in the u.s.. screen between terrorism and non-terrorism. if you are applying for a you would have to get a medical exam. you would have to present a police certificate from any country have lived for more than six months. the background check? >> that is part of the process for immigrant visas. was she subject to that
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process as a k-1 visa applicant? >> yes. >> nonimmigrant visas such as waiverunder the visa program? are they less stringent than a k-1? >> if you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, we do not thatre you to submit proof you have a clean criminal record in every country where you have lived. >> your answer would be yes. visa such asnt those under the visa waiver program, they are less stringent than a k-1? >> we add to the question about whether we have a criminal record but you are not required to prove it. 1.6 million
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overstays. are from the visa overstay program, the less overs -- stringent program. >> it is not less stringent in terms of the security checks. then the others. the inter-agency check is the same for all of them. normally required to undergo a health exam. i would say that is less stringent. if you are coming in as an
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yourrant, we need to see birth certificate. there are a number of documents that have to be in the file if you are moving permanently to the u.s.. >> yield. provide ahave to marriage certificate, correct? have a marriage certificate. you would have to provide, in other words if you are not married, you would not have to provide a marriage certificate. marriedyou have been before. you would need a copy before. >> i wanted to clarify. ,n the case of san bernardino that is how she got here.
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claiming she would get married. looks like she did get married. >> if you were a married couple coming on an immigrant visa, we would need to see your marriage certificate. i was not talking about a fiancee. again, if she were previously married, we would have to see the certified copy of the death certificate. got almost 400,000 immigrants under this visa waiver program, as we understand them. through a system you are telling me is less stringent than what we would require. understand where my problem is. back -- i yield back.
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>> i think air members and theesses, particularly comments about the sharing of lifts. there remembers talking about sharing. people here illegally. people who have committed crimes. people on visas. people who have overstayed their visas. not eligible to purchase a firearm. shareestion is, do you that information with appropriate authorities? are those list given to other agencies, such as atf. fbi. thatcan you give me information? --should be a fairly easy
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there are other agencies that are responsible for those. >> we will make inquiry. inquiry by the last week in january. the question asked in return, on the or not people paris screening database up to be included. >> there are a lot of lists that you go to great lengths to populate. the question becomes, if someone was here with a visa overstay. there are states that are handing out drivers licenses. one question, i would appreciate, if you have someone here illegally and they have , wen their driver's license know and have identified that person, can we share that
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information? last week of january? ,s that fair enough? those refugees, do you do anything in terms of those refugees? give us to bring questions and we will adjourn. >> thank you for your indulgence. i want to to go back to the discussion we had earlier about people allowed to enter the country illegally. track of people who transition from refugee status to immigrant status? >> we keep track of them in a sense, presumably when they apply for adjustment, we
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encounter them again. we know they have applied for adjustment. we run a fresh set of checks. do keeprespect, we track of them. >> is there a length of time they have to be here? >> they are expected to apply within a year. >> you have to be here a year before you are required? >> that is correct. , you can apply? >> that is true. can they apply for citizenship? >> they will need to wait five years after becoming legal permanent residents. >> six years. >> that is correct. >> what is the typical wait time for them, once they have applied
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for citizenship? >> as we speak now, we are on target for five months. you have people who have applied for citizenship who come here early --and little literally wait years. expediting priority to applied forve citizenship? , first are in the queue in first out. >> was it you can pass them faster? >> the law is they are expected to apply within a year.
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the wait time is another five years. that is the law. not our processing. >> that applies to other people as well. ask people who come here legally, and i hear report after report, people who have immigrated here legally and apply for citizenship after five years, they have to spend enormous amounts of money relative to their net worth. still on a waiting list to become citizens. that it appears, not only are we doing a particularly good job of vetting people, we are not adequately vetting the refugees before we admit them particularly from countries that might be problematic. somehow people get moved ahead of the line.
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>> thank you. i want to think the witnesses here. especially thank the men and women who go out and do a hard job. a thankless job, out there serving their country and doing so to the best of their ability. sometimes with limited tools and resources. we do this in the spirit of helping and fixing this in a bipartisan way. our thanks and gratitude goes to them. clear -- let me be clear. suggest, i want to be clear, that is not a deal we are going to make. each member is allowed to ask five minutes of questions per witness. all told, we can have these members ask four sets of five minute questions. some members did not show up.
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notother thing, we were expecting to have this hearing. please help us and provide us people, who come to this hearing, and make sure they are properly prepared to answer the questions. the committee stands adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> coming up, former ambassador
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ryan crocker on the syrian refugee crisis. then a look at the deal to keep the government funded. first, house democrats opposing the bill. and then the full house debate on the bill on tax provisions. after that, members debating the spending bill. on thursday, the house approved 620 $2 billion in expiring tax breaks including business, child, and education tax credits. the measure passed 318-109. next, taking up the spending bill to keep the government funded through september 30. if approved, it will be sent to the senate for action. the senate is expected to take up the legislation after the house paris live coverage of the house at 9:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span.
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next washington journal, bill kristol on this week's republican debate. after that, the executive director of the sierra club with details of the paris climate change agreement. watching to journal is live. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. next week is office week on the washington journal. with a featured nonfiction author korean starting monday, 9:00 a.m. eastern, former missouri state senator on mr. smith goes to prison. what my year behind bars taught me about the prison crisis. john whitehead on his book "battlefield america."
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a university of georgetown professor on wednesday, talking about her book, "how the other half banks." matthew green joins us to talk about "underdog politics." 25, author,december historian, and lecturer craig act."sed his book "last two sure to watch c-span during authors week. former, remarks by the ambassador to syria and iraq on the syrian refugee crisis.
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he criticized the obama administration and called on the u.s. to accept 100,000 refugees. the event was hosted by the arab center. 1.5 hours. >> good morning, everyone. invite those who have just arrived to join us as quickly as possible so we can begin this event. my name is -- i'm the executive director of the center washington d.c.. it is her 1-year-old nonpartisan nonprofit research organization located here in the district of columbia. dedicated to providing basic insight on foreign-policy middle east as well as furthering general understanding of of economic political and social understanding particularly at this time when the arab world is going through unprecedented wave
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of change. our mission simply put is to serve as an authoritative research and policy analysis center on the arab world, conducting timely independent and objective research on fundamental aspects of u.s.-arab ally rob relations. there are center for research and policy study which is emerging as the number one think tank in the arab world based in doha and it is to be known as the doha institute years ago when it started for those of you whom might be familiar with the old name. it was directed by doctors shaare a in doha. we are affiliated of course to the center they are with a group which we will try to leverage and our relationship with think tanks here in the washington d.c. area.
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the center is affiliated with some very different types of research centers and think tanks throughout the arab world. so we would like to serve as the local link here in d.c. with all these think tanks and research centers in the arab world. again part of the introduction here, let me say that we view ourselves as a progressive think tank and a lot of our process is different from traditional think tanks. we emphasize our efforts and analysis on democracy, human rights and justice in the arab world regardless of the traditional approaches if you will in research centers in the past. today's event is focused on the controversial topic going back
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to september when president obama announced that in response to the crisis of syria refugees that the u.s. would instruct the administration, his administration to begin working on absorbing 10,000 syrian refugees in the united states which is frankly a meager number compared to the magnitude of the crisis and the magnitude of the moral and political response of our allies particularly in europe, and the issue has become controversial ever since. you have governors, you have president candidates talking mostly about this issue and spreading rumors and innuendos and false information about this, which has impacted unfortunately public opinion so when you look at public opinion
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between 54 and 56% of the american public is opposed to bringing any syrian refugees to the country. you know that propaganda if you will, the opposition to this kind of took a toll on us as a country. but what u.s. policy should the in terms of standing up and being counted particularly as a country of immigrants, we have the right person. ambassador ryan crocker is a dean and executive professor at the george bush school of government and public service at texas a&m university. he holds their edward and howard kruse endowed chair. he was also the past couple of years the james schlessinger distinguished visiting professor at the university of virginia and the kissinger senior fellow
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at a.m. university 2012/2013. ambassador crocker is a very well-known face for those of us who have been working on the middle east for some time. probably one of the richest and most productive as far as i'm concerned careers in u.s. diplomacy in the region particularly at certain crucial times of middle east history and u.s. foreign-policy history in the region. he served for 37 years in the region. he doesn't look like he served it. i had the opportunity to visit with them during some of these very important i would add 10 years in the middle east in the region at that time for he was not only respected here at home but very well respected also in the region. he retired in 2009 and was
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called back to active duty by president obama to serve as u.s. ambassador to afghanistan in 2011. he had served as u.s. ambassador in the region six times in afghanistan, iraq, pakistan, syria, kuwait and lebanon. he also served as international affairs adviser to the national war college where he joined in 2003 and from may to august of 2003 he also was in baghdad as the first director of governance for the provisional authority at a very crucial time for that. math. he also served right after that as is deputy assistant secretary of state for middle eastern affairs between 2001 and 2003. ambassador crocker received the presidential medal of freedom, the nation's highest civilian award in 2009 and is other what
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awards included the veterans of foreign wars, dwight eisenhower award for distinguished meritorious service award and the distinguished service award in 2008 and 2012 again. he also received a department of defense medal for distinguished civilian service in 1997 and 2008 and my favorite for diplomat, the distinguished public service, the word for valor and the american foreign service association award for creative dissent. we have combined creative dissent with diplomacy but definitely this is a man who has done very well and received the award for it. in september 2004 president bush conferred on him the personal rank of ambassador which has most of the newest highest in the foreign service in this country. in may 2009 secretary of state
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hillary clinton announced establishment of a ryan c. crocker award for outstanding achievement in expeditionary diplomacy and in july 2012 you as named an honorary marine, the 75th civilian to be honored as such since the founding of the marine corps in 1775 which is a great honor. for those of you who are not familiar with his -- i would refer you back to "the wall street journal" on november 17, 2015 when his article the case for accepting syrian refugees was the voice of sanity in this country in terms of how to deal with the syrian refugees. it's an honor to introduce to you ryan crocker. [applause]
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>> thank you very much for that generous introduction. i can be introduced in the number of ways. i kind of like the way you did it take another whack at the introduce would be pictorially. if you can imagine a picture of every significant u.s. foreign policy setback in the greater middle east since 1979, sir, one picture per each disaster i would be in every one of those pictures, first row second from the left. i had heard that the arab center had been established but when i got the e-mail, what i really focused on was the center.
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there was no question in my mind even though i don't live in d.c. i do count my blessings that i was going to be here because he did the inviting. i reminded him that we first met a quarter of a century ago literally. 1985 i was deputy director for israeli and palestinian affairs in the state and i received a question from the state department. what did i think of the meeting between murphy at or legendary citizen secretary of state and kahlil josh shown. i thought about that for a minute and i said it would be great if kahlil will agree to do it. [laughter] and the rest as they say is history.
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so it's a pleasure and an honor to be here with you kahlil and under the auspices of the arab center to discuss a truly critical issue, the issue of syrian refugees and the u.s. response. in the description you charitably put it as the evolving u.s. policy. we are facing and everybody in this room knows, a crisis of truly global proportions and as bad as it is now on its current trajectory is going to be a whole lot worse in six months, in a year, in two years. again, 4 million roughly syrian
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refugees, over 7.5 million internally displaced inside of syria. by any measure this, as bad as it's been in terms of scale and severity of any refugee crisis since world war ii. what is missing that was present in the end of world war ii's global leadership. this is not a syrian problem. it is not a middle eastern problem. it is not a european problem. it is a global problem and it's going to take local leadership, not to resolve it. that's probably going to be decades in the making but simply to contain and manage it. there is only one nation that can't exercise that leadership.
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that is the united states, and the united states i am very sad to say as an american is not leading. we are not even participating. khalil referred to the op-ed i did for "the wall street journal" on the 17th of november, four days after the terrorist attacks. in that op-ed, i didn't argue for supporting president obama's commitment to take 10,000 refugees. i called for the united states to take 100,000 syrian refugees, four days after paris. i have been arguing this for some time. on the port of mercy corps and that is mercy corps's position as a number of other international humanitarian ngos. i believed in it before paris, i believed in it after paris.
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paris changed nothing with respect to the plate of syrian and other refugees around the world. it is -- yet it has changed things and i'll come back to that in a minute. 100,000 against 4 million is also a token but symbolically much more significant. it would established us, again as a leader on this issue. again what is happening without american leadership, the europeans are flaming. we may see the european union, part as a political construct. the economic union will persist but it could come apart as it is equal construct because of the refugee issue. you are seeing the intense disagreements among european states. they're not going to resolve these matters by themselves.
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only a global leader can start a process of treating a global crisis as a global crisis involving all stakeholders in every country on earth is a stakeholder in this, but it isn't going to happen without sustained focus u.s. leadership. right now the administration is defending the policy of accepting 10,000. i just checked and in the first two months of the current fiscal year, october and november, we had resettled an overwhelming 437 syrian refugees. we are nowhere near a trajectory to even meet that rather sad goal of 10,000. you look at what the canadians
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just did. a much smaller population but with the prime minister who was prepared to stand up and say 30,000 in to be at the airport to meet the first families coming in. i wish we could we could see our president at the airport. as this insane debate is carried forth in the primaries, where a fractious primary field is united on one thing, let's not have any syrian refugees or we are going to have them let's be sure they are just christians. it's not america's greatest day and when you think about who we are as a people, and lets you are descended from native americans, or your forbearers were brought to this country in chains, if you aren't one or two
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of those categories you are an immigrant or refugee. as all but one of those candidates are. they are lucky that someone like them wasn't in office when their forbearers tried to get into this country. actually most cases we would have been a lot luckier. i'm sorry, no business being recorded being recorded. sometimes i can't help myself. so as a people we need to take a collective deep breath sit in a tree somewhere and remember who we are and what we are about. the real irony, almost a tragedy , about the refugee debate is that this is one of those relatively rare moments
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when american values and american interests coincide. we all know about american exceptionalism. we are exceptional, almost unique among modern states. we are a nation that is founded on ideals, principles and values as well as interest and as someone who has been in the field of diplomacy for most of my adult life, i see constantly how there is often tension or a collision between american values and american interests. i'm delighted with the center reviewer bringing a particular focus on some of those values like human rights and democracy. the refugee issue is not one of those points of friction or collision. our fundamental values of who we
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are is written right there on the statue of liberty. bring your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free and refused them all and tree. so there it is a fundamental american value coinciding with the fundamental american national security interests. which is to take a definitive and ultimately successful stand against the terrorism practiced by the islamic state. the greatest challenge we can give the islamic state is by welcoming syrian refugees into this country. if you noticed, back in september when the great tidal wave of largely syrian refugees hit europe anglo markova german
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chancellor initially took a public position saying they are welcome in germany. well, islamic state social media went. all kinds of postings. don't believe it, it's a lie, it's a trap, they hate you. they are trying to root lure you in so they can destroy you inside their borders. don't believe it, don't go there why this media firestorm? because it undercuts the islamic state narrative of the true believers against the crusaders. angola merkel by making that statement just completely belied their narrative that the christian west, large the christian west is somehow fundamentally anti-arab and anti-muslim. that was a much more effective
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strike against them than any number of bombing runs on arauca so islamic state today, they would have loved that debate. it is making their case that it is the west led by america against the people of the faith. so again with them opportunities to uphold our values and uphold our security interests, we are blowing it. i'm not going to get into the rise of nativist sentiments that political candidates are clinging to. my real concern is again this absence of u.s. leadership on a key issue. absence of u.s. leadership abroad and at home quite frankly
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this is a time for bold steps in bold gestures that confirm who we are as a people and as a people in upholding our values we are going to defend our interests to take this campaign against the islamic state at the most fundamental level of values and of identity. i mentioned i'm on the board of mercy corps. like our sister agencies and the national rescue committee save the children and others, the syrian refugee issue is by far and away our biggest issue. we have got our people out in lebanon, and jordan, and turkey,
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increase and -- in greece and we operate inside of syria not with international staff but mercy corps i'm not making a pitch for the younger people in the room who are looking for meaningful adventure in life join mercy corps, mercy corps.orc to apply. we chain -- train national staff to the same level that we train international staff so we had a significant cadre of syrians working for mercy corps who were able to operate effectively, completely independent of any international staff presence and that is what they are doing all over syria at enormous risk, but they are doing it. syrians helping syrians with international support.
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i said earlier on the current trajectory and unbelievably tragic situation left unmanaged and unchecked is simply going to get worse. like every other international relief agency, the though like the u.n. system, we are running out of money, because donor fatigue has set in both in terms of private philanthropy and in terms of governmental philanthropy. we are seeing food rations to refugees in adjoining countries cut because the money simply isn't there. and what i see are two lines that are very troubling. the need is going to go up and the resources are going to go down. so again, i said this in other
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contexts, as bad as things are today cherish the moment, because looking back in six months, these will seem like the good old days. it is going to be a long -- and that's what i have been trying to do to get the attention of the administration. you can't ignore it. this is not going away. this is only going to get worse. so i would simply hope that the president, the secretary of state and others will come to that appreciation and pushback against those forces in this country that would have us do they wrong thing, the wrong thing morally but also the wrong thing for national security interests.
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i don't have to tell anybody in this room would refugee screening is like. it is the most intense scrutiny of any category of applicants for entry to this country go through. about the last thing you are going to do if you are going to try to get a terrorist into the states is code through the refugee process. it takes about two years and the number of checks that you go through mean you look for easier ways like finding people who don't need visas or already have passports. you are not going to do it turned refugees so this is wrong on so many levels. it's analytically wrong and morally wrong, it's wrong in terms of u.s. interests. and it's going to take a concerted stance by those who
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believe in a different america that is being described on the campaign trail, who believe in core american interests as well is corps american ideals. .. >> the intentions and the actions cannot synchronize.
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it is never too late. the darkness is descending. it is going to be a whole lot darker. some months from now if we stay on the trajectory we are currently on. it is past time, but certainly there will be no better movement. only worse moments don't the road. i just come back from beirut. we can talk about some of the political dimensions of the syrian crisis, probably makes the syrian refugee situation look good. if you would like but i won't further depress you on a rainy, washington morning, further hand i have. -- further than i have. i would like to just spend a final few words on what really
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bad could look like over the long run. mercy corps has a particular emphasis in its refugee programs in syria's neighbors on youth. that 13 to 23 or 24 swath. they are by and large without access to any form of education. they are without access to skills, training. they are without access to employment. in short they are without access to hope. we have seen what happens when you deny refugee populations even hope.
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coincidence, that radical palestinian movements were given birth in refugee camps, and had no trouble recruiting young people, willing to die debuts they have something to die for. the dream of palestine, the dignity with the struggle that in a life that otherwise had only impoverishment and humiliation. well, welcome to the next generation. of the impoverished, of the hopeless, of the humiliated. if things continue as they are i expect to see a highly radicalized syrian refugee population, not this year, not in a few years in ten years, in 20 years,. what will be the narrative that
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they absorb as they make their choices in life? not the west: not the united states, turned its back on you. left you to the counsels of disspare and hopelessness in camps in conditions we here in america can't even imagine. so, again, that is today. it's going to be worse in six months, worse in a year, and this will be the gift that keeps on giving to the region and the world for years and years to come in the absence of action. and in this sense, the administration is in many respects in my view, as complicit as those who take these immoral stances on immigration. all it takes, as has been said, for evil to succeed is for the
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good to do nothing. well, evil is succeeding, and the good are pretty much sitting on our hands. so, i would hope that this center, and your allies in america, and in the world, will take a different position, force a different action. we're still america. we're the greatest country and people on earth. this is the moment for us to stand by our values, with the knowledge that for once, our values and our interests coincide. so, i wish you luck. you can certainly count on me as an ally. "the wall street journal" will publish wherever i write. i have to take my hat off to the "wall street journal." i wanted there for reasons and they were ready to do it. so there are little bits of
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courage here and there thank you. now, we'll turn this into a dialogue. [applause] >> i would just like to bring it to your attention in case you haven't yet looked at your folders you picked up, a couple of the items that our fearless staff at the center have graciously put together with regards to facts and numbers relevant to the presentation by ambassador crocker, which was a very substantive and frank conversation, and morally challenging to all of news this country to really stand up and measure up to this crisis. i just wanted a couple of things he eluded to on the right-hand side i think of the folder, the screening process for those of
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you, whether in the media or otherwise, looking for a thorough kind of delineation of step-by-step of the process. it's unbelievable. i recommend to everybody concerned about the syrian refugee crisis to fully understand it because it's taken a dimension of its own in la la land, and the debate that is taking place right now in the country, without understanding the process. so, i would recommend everybody avail that to friends and foes if you will to educate them on the issue. the other one was the discrepancy between the growing crisis, as the ambassador mentioned accurately, and the diminishing support, if you will, and these two graphs are very important. they summarize both, so if you're not familiar with that, i would recommend that you also take a good look.
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another unique thing we included in your package is our kind of legislative department center prepared, again, the role of congress somewhat tends to be ambiguous to many of news work on middle east issues. we kind of ignore congress because we're disappointed in a lot hoff the shenanigans they play in congress with regard to middle east policy, but i think it's important to look at this brief report on the right-hand side of your folder. that is titled "status of syrian refugee legislation before congress." because as the ambassador said, it is bald now but could get worse and that applies to some of the congressional plans in terms of pieces of legislation and other measures that they are deliberating, and they're all listed there by name and by purpose. and that could make things a lot worse.
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ambassador crocker was very gracious to be willing to spend a few minutes, the balance of our time, answering your questions, responding to your remarks. i would say the rules are basic. just raise your hand. i'll recognize you, and staff will bring a microphone to you, and just state your name, affiliation if you care to, and questions, preferably short so he can go around the room and give everybody a chance. may i first recognize dr. ziady, my colleague at the -- my resident scholar on syria and the syrian refugee. if would like to make a comment for raise a question to the ambassador. is that okay for television to stay there? okay. thank you. >> thank you, ambassador. actually, we missing such kind of leading voices speak on
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behalf of the syrian refugees. you mentioned the case of -- the german chancer, and the canadian prime minister. i think they show such kind of leadership. this is why i think they choose chancellor merck -- merkel to be the woman of the year, which i think is really important. but i just have a comment and question. the comment that unfortunately we think syria right now also three different crises. the syrian transition is one crisis. isis is a different crisis and the syrian refugees as a third crisis. those three crises are interconnected and this is actually the failure of the policymakers to connect this three different crises and to
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take an action that make it worse and worse, and if things getting like the way also it is right now, i think, as you projected, maybe we'll expect more and more. i think the next case will be the global jihad, already there is some indication of that. this is why my question that it's the time -- the u.k. time newspaper published a survey last month, which shows that 76 of the syrian refugees in europe right now, they flee syria because of barrel bombs. if they don't have the no-fly zone we will not have any isis crisis or the refugee crisis right now. with the intensive russian airstrikes on the populated area, which lifted 100,000 in
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the last three days, to flee into turkey, i don't see actually that we are going on the way to have a political solution or a way of having leadership to solve this interconnected crisis. what you take on that and how you see can the united states deal with the russian hegemony not only in syria but the whole middle east. thank you. >> those are excellent points. i'm glad you brought them out. i was kind of hinting that there's a whole political dilemma out there that -- and you cannot, as you rightly say, you cannot talk about these things in isolation. i have been a proponent for some time of no-fly zones.
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with the russian intervention that has now gotten far more complex, but precisely because of the interlinkages of syrian transmission, islamic state and refugees, something has got to be done to change the dynamic, to change the context, or the spiral-down is simply going to continue. and a no-fly zone would be a way of starting to change that dynamic. many of you know this far better than i, but having just been in lebanon earlier this week, i was freshly reminded of how the united states is increasingly perceived in the arab world generally, in the arab sunni world in particular. it's no longer an assertion. it is anam3
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fact that the antisunni axis is -- share al-assad in damascus, tehran and moscow, washington. talk about a campaign against islamic state. a lot of people in the area see that as a campaign against sunni arabs, and when we do things like issue a prompt denial that the bombing recently of a syrian military base was -- we claim we didn't do it. we didn't do it. reinforces that narrative. that as you say, most of the victims in this mass slaughter in syria, most of those who were driven out, were slaughtered or driven out, not by islamic state but by the assad regime and its
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tactics of the barrel bombs. so, we have ourselves painted into a very, very dangerous corner, in terms of perceptions, of who we're allied with and who we're fighting against. we're seen as de facto in alliance with, again, iranians, russians, and the assad regime, against sunni arabs. no-fly zones, north and south could begin to change that dynamic. it also is a pushback against the regime, against the russians, and against the iranians. and for those of you who are interested in detail, there are ways to structure this so that chances of a clash between us and the russians would be minimal. the risk to our aviation would be minimal. but this could change the politics of the struggle in a way that might make a political
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negotiation possible. right now, i have the highest regard for secretary kerry, but this effort at a political negotiation is going to go nowhere because the russians, the iranians, and bashar al-assad think they're on a role. why negotiate? and the reality is they're not going to as long as they think they're winning. no-fly zones would have a humanitarian value, and send a very important signal that in fact we do stand with those who are being slaughtered and driven out of the country, and we stand against a regime that right now we're seeing as tacitly supporting. a very important step. really, real ya hard to do. if we had done it before the russians came in it would have been different. probably wouldn't have the russians coming in the consequences of inaction can be as severe as misguided actions.
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>> thank you. right here. >> i'm from the european union delegation here in washington. first of all, you describe the crisis that we see in europe due to the huge influx of refugees, and certainly it is a challenge to our structures and to our institutions, but i hope that we are resilient and can manage this. i think that any country or any entity that would have been in this situation would have had difficulties to cope because no system is built for an influx like this one, and the places where the people come in are small touristy islands and areas which are not at all built for -- or have the infrastructure for receiving these people, and i -- although
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you see in its very -- been very well-reported here, a lot of the political consequences which was hundred underreported is actually the outpour of solidarity among europeans as such civil society, ngos, individuals, that are really playing a huge role. having come to that, we have of course from the european union side been in constant contact with the american counterparts in discussing what they can do to address this global crisis, and we have also come to the conclusion that it's probably not going to happen that the numbers of refugees that the u.s. will take in will increase. at least not in the near future, and at the pace that have been described here, it will not make any difference in the short term at least. but we also see that it's not
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going that fast in providing other types of support because, for example, the baskans are -- the balkans are suffering a lot under the influx of refugees and they have quite weak structures, and there the u.s. could be really crucial in helping out with the good contacts we see that the united states have with the balkans. also the same thing in turkey, jordan, lebanon, et cetera. could you comment on what the u.s. is doing in those areas and what you would like to see more? >> well, thanks for the question. as i tried to indicate what the u.s. is doing is too little at every level and in every dimension. resources obviously are important or critical, as i described and as julio has -- i
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love it. i hadn't seen the packet but as i was describing divergent lines you had actually mapped them out. so resources are critical, but it's the intangibles that i think is most lacking and it's the most important. it is the u.s. exerting a leadership role, and that doesn't mean ordering people around and telling them what to do or not to do. it simply means engaging, of saying to our european friends, we know this is a global crisis that is hitting you hard. let's sit down and talk about how we, all of us, manage it. what does the first line need? that's greece and the balkans. they face a challenge that is somewhat different than that face by northern europe. perhaps not lesser or greater but different. and they have fewer indigenous
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resources to meet it. so who needs what? who is worried about what? who can do what? somebody needs to do what we did at the last global refugee crisis, at the end of world word war ii, which is step forward. and you can calculate the odds of that happening in the last year of the presidential administration as well as i can. but without that, in this country, for europe, for the world, the legacy for the next american president is going to be a very grim one indeed. so, we are without a concerted effort that i think requires u.s. leadership, we're not going to get anywhere good because what we're seeing, at least from
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my perspective -- i'm glad you're here because you can present a european viewpoint -- are the divisions with the newer members of the european union, taking off in dramatically different positions on how to deal with refugee influxes, and then countries like germany or france. i have to say this, by the way. it wasn't as widely remarked as it should have been, but in the aftermath of the paris attacks, president hollande re-affirmed france's commitment on accepting refugees. didn't back away a bit. i thought that was a tremendous act of moral courage, but also, again, national interest. but i just would like to see my country step in the way so many our european allies are, and try to bring people together for a
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comprehensive look at a global problem. that involves our middle eastern friends, our friends in asian it involves the world, but it frankly takes a world leader to do this, and i don't see that leadership. >> okay. microphone over there, please. >> my name is muhammad -- i'm not affiliated with anybody but i'm palestinian refugee, a result of israel's occupation of palestine, and i see what is happening to the syrian population now is what happened -- what happened to us is happening to them now. first question. the question is, is the islamophobeic rhetoric coming out of the republican party, and especially trump and company, working?
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i guess yes. i have a story from my family. last week i had a member of my family who is a medical doctor, went to the airport, with her daughter, who is three years old, both of them had visas to come to america to visit. had a very high-paying job in one arab country, who is supposedly friends with the united states of america. the decision was made at the airport, you cannot board the airplane. go back and talk to the embassy. having said that, knowing that you are a former ambassador and you know theƧg0 procedure, is donald trump with his fear mongering succeeding and what is the procedure? who makes these decisions? i know the person. i don't want to say much because i don't want her to get more in trouble, okay? but that friendly country is the
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best friend now of the russians and they are at that on the syrian people. what is the procedure as an ambassador? do you know what the procedure is? who makes these decisions or maybe it's a political affiliation or "the mentalist" of the guy, because it was in a country where now immigration is done in that country. it's becoming a free-for-all. my crazy can create problems to refugees, and palestinian refugees north syrian refugees and you said six months from enough it's going to be worse. that means the poor syrian refugee won't have a plies to hide from the cold. we are coming up to cold weather. i would like to hear your answer now. >> obviously several elements
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there. the way the u.s. immigration is structured, not quite unique in the world but exceptional. visa decisions, any form of nonimmigrant visa, are the responsibility of an individual consular officer. there is -- there are guidelines but there isn't a checklist. check all these boxes and you're eligible, not, you're not. these are inherently subjective judgments and i know that. i served as a consular officer early in my career. it's hard. and the officer is ultimately responsible for the decision he or she makes. now, by statute, ambassadors cannot interfere for exactly that reason. am abortions cannot interfere in -- ambassadors cannot
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interfere in consular decisions. the officer has the responsibility and authority. an ambassador cannot issue a visa. i do not have that authority. only a consular officer can do so. and this puts a horrific responsibility now on my young colleagues. it's their decision. whoever the poor officer was that ultimately issued the fiancee visa to tashfeen mall lick can kiss his or her career goodbye, sadly. so, this wave of racist and ethnic bias is going to have its
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impact on young officers trying to do the right thing. but it -- unlike the system in most european countries, there is no cut, dry, yes, no. it's an individual and inherently subjective judgment. >> can we go around the room, please, and then i'll get back to you. >> just quick. >> there's a big crowd. the person in the corner back there, please. mr. ambassador. >> my name is -- aim other journalist. years ago we had no-fly zones in iraq. i wonder how successful they were and whether you think the u.s. forfeited a large measure of its influence in region but it precipitous withdrawal of troops in iraq, not to mention afghanistan, and whether you think when you talk about all these things the u.s. should do
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at every dimension, whether or not you're also referring to an increase in military strength in the region, just as our forces increase in vietnam from the 400 special forces sent by jfk to a 500,000 under lbj. >> the no-fly zone in northern iraq worked pretty well. it worked far less well in southern iraq, and you touch on a very important point. the reason it worked well in the north and not in the south is in the north and a quarter kurdish region --, you had kurdish forcs on the ground. the peshmerga. i made several visits to northern iraq in 2001-2002, and saw it first hand. they controlled the ground.
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we controlled the air. and that kept the iraqis out. the southern shia didn't have that advantage. so, saddam basically went about his killing of southern iraqis by other means rather than using his helicopters, he used ground elements. and that is important because if you're looking at no-fly zones in syria, there's going to have to be a ground component. that should not be us. again, we're -- u.s. boots on the ground are every islamic state recruiter's ultimate wet dream. we just cannot do that. in the south, maybe the jordanians could. in the north, it gets really
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complicated because of the turkish-kurdish tensions. there has to be control of the ground as well as control of the air. otherwise you're going to see what you saw in southern iraq, and i was there in ...
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i certainly did. it was the withdrawal of our political engagement. there engagement. when i was out there as ambassador, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense when she wasn't there and the president on the phone all the time to everybody. battle stopped. that all stopped when we pulled our forces out. our engagement has much more to do with subsequent unraveling then military withdrawal. we seem to link the one tightly
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to the other. we are only politically engaged if our forces are in the ground. if you're politically engaged, maybe may be your forces don't have to be on the ground. but we disengaged politically as much as we did militarily. >> thank you. as a respected diplomat mr. investor, we've had several disasters since 1979 as you put it. in your speech, it was clear that you are arguing for more leadership of the united states. does that global leadership translate or is it synonymous with unilateral moves on the one hand, and on the other, the u.s. policy that has been applied in
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syria has been calling for regime change as a byproduct of creative chaos. now secretary kerry is saying clearly that the u.s. policy is no longer trying to achieve regime change in syria in particular. thank you. >> when i speak of the u.s. leadership, i mean that quite literally, the u.s. to play a leading role with our friends and allies around the world. unilateral action not only are not going to solve anything that will make things worse. these are collective challenges that require a collective response but i see an urgent need for somebody to orchestrate
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that response, not make it or do it but to orchestrate it, to lead as it were and by leading that means building consensus, not issuing dictums. very much against unilateral action. that will solve nothing at this critical juncture. but collective commitment can manage a lot of things that are unmanaged at the moment. even if it can't solve them. with respect to u.s. policy toward syria, i worry greatly of the perception, as i said earlier that there is a washington, damascus, chiron, moscow access that is in support and therefore the largely sunni
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population that he is busy killing and driving out of the country. this is not in our interest and it is inconsistent with our values. it is going to intensify a conflict. it will not put it on the road to resolution. >> question now from the west bank. >> please go ahead. >> i am with the u.s. commission on international religious freedom. there are over 4 million refugees, 7.5 are unlikely to be resettled or be able to return to their homes when this conflict eventually ends. are there policies and programs that we can be pursuing now for the eventual end of this situation, whenever that does end? that will allow the communities that have a lot of distressed around religious and
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ethnic lines to have a country for themselves again. >> it's a great question. sadly i see no, i can't even imagine a robust solution to the conflict right now. i just can't imagine it. i do hope there is a more concerted effort to manage it then we have seen so far and to do much more to support those who have had to flee the country. there is a lot of us out there that are heavily invested in this and with more resources we could do more. providing education, providing employment opportunities and working to do what you are
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targeted at to develop civil societies among refugee populations. to facilitate conversations among refugees of different or religious or ethnic backgrounds. to facilitate conversations and understandings that when circumstances do permit as one hopes someday they will, for refugees to return home with a different sense of who they are and how they can work with one another. you know my organization and others, it takes resources to do. we don't have the resources to see that people eat decently, let alone work on critical
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issues of a civil society and understanding. that is what i mean about a bad situation getting so very much worse. if we could stabilize refugee populations, work to get them better lives and a hope for a future, we would be going a long way to creating a post-crisis post- crisis environment that would be far more positive than what we had precrisis. but again, the line on your grass are showing were going the opposite direction. >> good morning, molly mcquiston , tomorrow spending bill will vote on visa waiver bills for countries being deemed high risk.
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what does that mean for individuals with dual citizenship or american individuals? >> the good news on this bill is that the anti- refugee elements of previous bills are not there. the bad news is some very discriminatory language is, particularly on the visa waiver program. as i understand the draft, i have to say i have not sat down and read the text yet, but as i understand it, in addition to requiring visas for individuals who would otherwise have that requirement waived, because of travel to select countries it goes into a very dangerous area saying in effect, a
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british-born, british citizen who happened to have a syrian or iranian father, even though the citizen in question had never been to that country would no longer be eligible for a visa waiver. wow. that just really scares me. it is holly discriminatory. it is discriminatory based not on you are or what you did but who your father or mother is. if we are prepared to pass legislation like that, what are we prepared to do about our own citizens? the fear is one of the most dangerous emotions on earth. fear is making us behave in ways that are contrary to our values and interests. i hope they pull that out of
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their and we will all have to be very vigilant. i will not demonize those who are inserting such language. i think they are motivated by fear. but that's what i meant about that collective deep breath and sitting down under a tree and working this through so we are not taking steps that are ultimately counter to our own national security and corrosive to our values. if you take this step, what other steps might follow from it? thank you for raising it. again, the spending bill avoided the very worst, but there are still some really bad things in there. >> my name is scott cooper. i am a retired marine. i certainly take to heart your point about american leadership.
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just on specifics, president roosevelt started a war refugee board. the point of orchestrating this is critical. one of the first steps you would recommend whether it's by congress for the administration to start using some american leadership? >> staying focused on the refugee issue, there are several things. there is a very robust, elaborate refugee resettlement structure in this country and human rights first, of course, is part of it. so start by convening those agencies that are involved in resettlement's so to make sure we have a nationally coordinated
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effort, and by the way, the way we are structured these are state and local requirements. for a national coordinating effort on how we are organized to handle refugees at home, what's the resource issue? who needs what, where? then take that abroad. i would like to see us convene a refugee summit appropriately prepared that we would convene and share with such an unnecessary of that a lot of other work would start to get done. what's the situation in europe, country by country? what do they need from us, what do they not need from us? how are our middle eastern allies looking at this and resourcing it?
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so a summit itself is not just the start of a process, it could be a combination of it by being the forcing mechanism to start these hard conversations among all the pictures spends so i'd start at home, i'd start a broad and part of the start at home has to be a conversation between the administration and the hill, on the hill, about taking that deep breath. let's look at our values and interests. let's look at our alliances. let us proceed from there. i'm not here to give plugs for human rights first, first, except i am. it's a terrific organization. [laughter] after you've contributed to the
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arab center and mercy corps, -- you know i'm a resident of the state of texas right now and there we have a legal challenge brought by the state against resettlement of refugees in the state. i'm working with human rights first to file a declaration or a brief as part of that case. there is a lot of stuff going on out there. as we look to step forward, we have to watch our backs because there are some pretty frightening things in the land right now. >> okay, the next three questions, very quickly please. over here. >> i work with global hope network international in jordan. we are very much working with
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the mercy corps guys and visiting many of the syrian refugees. i've enjoyed the last few years. my big question away from politics, you talked about hope. so many of the syrians and other refugees have totally lost hope. they don't have ways to go back home. they they see the rejection of so many countries like this great country, and the big question is how can we help to reinject hope in their life and also on the humanitarian side, as many of them are really
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taking $20 a day from the united nations. many of them go to bed without food. how can we, we, with the heart that god has given us help them? >> yes, it's a pretty horrible situation. it isn't all about the money, but a lot of it is about the money. whatever we can do individually and collectively to overcome the wave of donor fatigue that his sweeping the world to indicate that these are human beings they need our help and it is our duty to help them we have to re-energize both governments and populations to be more generous in support of these populations because as you say we are seeing
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stipends eliminated and food rations cut and that's just going to get worse because without a summit approach to re-energize the global community, that line of resources is just going to keep going down as the number of refugees continue to increase. our friends in jordan and lebanon are bearing an enormous burden. they are kind of doing it by themselves so again, the richest country on earth sort of has an obligation here but that obligation isn't going to be met without presidential leadership so it kind of comes back to that. >> thank you. i'm on the board here at the
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arab center in d.c. i just got back from palestine in jordan. i was there with some congressional staff. behind us was let trail of senators coming from both parties and they were visiting the refugee camps in jordan. it made me think about your comment on the resources that there may be a case to be made here in the u.s. within congress and the appropriations committee that if they're not going to take the refugees which i think is a very tough sell in this environment. by the way democrats and republicans, i don't see a democrat allowing allowing refugees in either. i don't think this is a republican thing. i do see a case that could be made to help more refugees where they are. i'm wondering if you can comment on that. >> i'm delighted to hear that there were house and senate delegations out there. yes, and again i i don't mean to
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keep harping on this, wouldn't it be great if the president invited members of those delegations who went out to these countries and visited these areas invited them to the white house to say thank you for your interest, thank you for taking the trouble, what are we going to do about it because you're quite right. this is not a partisan issue. this is a national issue. sadly i think you're quite right. i've been getting some very interesting mail, as soon as i did my op-ed last month and a lot of my very interesting mail comes from self-declared democrats. yes, i get that. we've we've got a negative bipartisanship on refugee resettlement so let's see if we can get some part positive
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bipartisanship going on supporting refugees where they may be currently. it's going to take leadership. members of those delegations are not going to come together back here and say we are going to do this that and the other. it's just not going to happen. if they all go to the white house, that could start something. >> former executive director of task force in lebanon. thank you for the presentation. you mentioned the theme over and over again about u.s. leadership. would you care to comment on the absence of arab leadership? it just doesn't seem to be present. is there anything that can be done to invigorate or some initiative be taken to see some leadership coming out of the region other than just the united states?
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>> i know i bored you all to death, but here comes again. they see arab states start to step forward when the u.s. seriously engages. everybody is kind of watching us and not seeing much so if or not doing anything, why should they? it's just a hard truth. it's the 25th anniversary of the iraqi invasion of kuwait. in february it will be 25 years since liberation. i think of the coalition that came together to expel iraq from kuwait. the greatest international coalition since the second world war in which saudi, egyptian and
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syrian forces were all present. do you think the region or the international community would have come together without u.s. leadership? not a chance. absolutely not a a zip, zero, none. this is a challenge of a different nature. there is one common thread. nothing good is going to happen without the united states at the center of it. that has been the way the world has worked since world war ii. it still is. our strength and influence have diminished but it's still there. most importantly, there is no other source for it. we came together 25 years ago because we lead. i think they could and would again but it's gonna require
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that same dynamic from our side. >> let me say that i think we are all in agreement that we need to do more for syrian refugees. i do a lot of speaking outside of washington. i see a certain number of arguments that would fall on deaf ears. on one hand you say we support american values but then you began your speech by saying this is a substantial amount of americans disagree. secondly you say we have the most rigorous system possible and it takes two years for refugees to get here from syria.
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when you say that to people on the countryside, they say yes but it's taken for years to bring 2500 in. how do you go next year to 10,000 without changing your standards and values in doing that. can we trust washington to handle these things well? >> yes, on the first part, i am making a plea not to override public opinion, but to engage public opinion. i hear the negative voices out there. i don't hear very many positive ones explaining why support for refugees including resettlement is in the national interest as well as in accordance with national values. that effort by the administration or by others is largely absent as the negative voices capture the airways and persuade public opinion. by no means am i saying ignore public noeans am i saying ignore public opinion.
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i'm saying engage in order to produce a a different narrative to get people to think about this because right now, look, in times of crisis, the fallback is fear and reactions are produced from fear. i'm arguing for a more complex but critical discussion that is largely absent in the country. absent from the debate because it's far easier to let the fear factor predominate. i'm just asking for a different discussion. i can't think of a better group than people in this room to begin to lead that. the second part of that was -- oh yeah again, it's a question
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of how much priority do you want to give this. if you make this a presidential imperative, the resources are there to do it. i've been involved in particular with the issue of iraqis and afghans who have worked for us and because of that are in jeopardy. yes we could do this screening without taking anything away from it, but we could do it a lot faster if we made it a higher priority. so i would be asking, let's take this from a seventh tier priority and make it a top priority and put the resources and manpower into it to do screening that is no less thorough, but to do it far more quickly than we are doing it
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now. right now it it's so far down the line of priorities that it takes what i think is an unconscionable amount of time. this is a global crisis. let's treat it like one. which manifestly, we are not doing now. >> alright, with this i would like to thank everyone for being here today and for your lively participation in the discussion. if you could please join me in thinking ambassador crocker [applause]. >> thank you for taking time in your busy schedule to be with us. thank you to the center working hard to make this happen. we appreciate it. >> see you at another event in the future.
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>> coming up one c-span, we will look at the deals on how to keep the government-funded. house democrats opposing the spending bill. 866full house debate on the alien dollar expiring tax provisions bill. after that, numbers debating the spending bill. >> the next washington journal, bill kristol on this week's republican debate on what it means for the 20 16th field. after that, the executive director of the sierra club with details on the paris climate change agreement. washington journal is live every morning at seven at 7:00 p.m. eastern and you can join the conversation with your calls and comments on facebook and twitter. today, president obama will
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hold an end of the year news conference at the white house. live starting at 1:50 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> the chair of the congressional black caucus g.k. butterfield announced the caucus was reluctant to support the budget deal calling it inadequate saying it reduces funding for the black caucus priorities including education program, infrastructure investment in minority commit -- communities. caucus members talked about their opposition for about 45 minutes. >> thank you mr. speaker. bill is reflection of priorities, then the omnibus that we are considering right the clearest snapshot of what is wrong with our nation. we are talking about lifting a
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the export of crude oil, risking thousands of jobs and rising gas prices for working families immediately after joining the most important climate agreement ever created. swallow tinyed to increases to the programs working families need and rely on while we make permanent tax cuts for corporations and millionaires that we have not paid for. to cheer theed extensions of vital programs like the child tax credit when that credit has not in indexed to cover the rising cost families need. mr. speaker, these are gains and after only a year in congress, i am tired of playing them. we like the word compromise, it
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implies that we have done something good. that we have worked together. bill, we willhis have worked together to keep america down for generations to come. we are patting ourselves on the making it out of sequester but the incremental spending increases in this omnibus funding package do nothing to make up for the last five years of cuts. , so muchpent so much time digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a funding whole that this omnibus seems like level ground. the fact is, it is not. it is far from it. regardless of how much funding funding increases sound, the foundation of the american dream is crumbling underneath our defeat right now.
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with stagnant wages, struggling schools, and a wealth cap that is only getting bigger. families need funding that supports their needs. they need a tax code that promotes the middle class. they need tax credits and funding for programs to help cover the outrageous cost of childcare and preschool education. tuition atoutstrip public colleges in 31 of our 50 states. they need funding for higher education. that would allow them to graduate without debt. support for our highways, bridges, rail systems and broader infrastructure. that createprojects
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good paying jobs and make every community stronger. causends of projects that people to feel confident that they have enough security in their future and enough money in their pocket to spend some of it and help to stimulate the economy. and to create many, many, ancillary jobs and small business needs. they need a lot more than what is being offered in this legislation. compromise should not compromise the needs of families across the country. who are relying on as to get this right. of tax credit needs, to be protected and uplift every american. we cannot afford to pass them without a plan for them. speaker, we have labored
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over many things in this house. we have spent a long time talking about less important issues. we are being confronted right now with a humongous bill that has broad implications on communities that are vulnerable for the next several generations. we are asked to support a piece of legislation that does not seem to address from a proportionally equal perspective those needs. i want to take a moment now to just draw the houses attention to this front-page story in politico. congress is -- trillion dollar spending binge. what is fascinating about this is that my colleagues from the
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other side of the aisle come the folks that are responsible for this spending inch are always the first to condemn government spending. now, they want to spend billions of dollars on special interest. historicallyrting black colleges and universities, without supporting the programs that come back poverty, without supporting the working families in this ity because the revenues generated from the things that we do toup lift our working families, that revenue gets put back into the economy and creates a better, fairer, and larger economy. the numbers in this omnibus lie.
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they sound like increases but they do nothing to pull us out of the rut that the past five years have left us in. i know that there are many of my colleagues who feel the same way. we look at the modest increases that may be associated with child care tax credit. we look at modest increases that may be applied to a housing program. we look at modest increases that may be applied to several programs that, if there were sufficient revenues associated with those programs, would indeed make a difference in these communities. but the proportion a -- proportionality of priority in this omnibus bill and in our efforts today and tomorrow does not speak to our acknowledgment that it is the majority of people, that it is the middle class, the working class, and
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yes, even the most vulnerable that we are leaving behind. we can do better than that. mechanic, we need to do better than that. because we are better than that. there are several there are some glaring omissions in the omnibus bill. is unfathomable that we are unwilling to support a u.s. territory in a financial meltdown just as we offer permanent tax breaks for corporations and special interests who don't even need our help. we are leaving the citizens of puerto rico woefully in need. this is not fair. this is un-american and this isn't who we are. what is our responsibility to the citizens of puerto rico, who won't have good access to
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hospitals, medicare. what about the children, almost 56% who live in poverty, what are we saying to them? what we are saying in this bill that is before us, this day, coming forth, that is expected to move forward in this house is that we are still only concerned with elevating the status, the well-being, the security and the happiness of those that already have a lion's share of all of it. mr. speaker, we are better than that. we have a responsibility to speak up, protect, preserve and ensure opportunity for all. that is what we have been elected to do. i want to take a moment to talk
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about the give-away to oil companies that we have in this omnibus. there's nothing positive about this for working families. ending the 40-year ban on crude oil risks our energy security here at home. it threatens our environmental leadership and it takes away jobs from american workers. we didn't pass legislation to create more access to oil in this country simply to be able to provide wealthy companies the opportunity to sell it abroad at higher price to bypass our refineries, to sell crude oil to other countries and have them benefit from the jobs that we fought to create in the legislation that we passed. that's illogical. that's contraintuitive for what
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we did in the first place. yet, it is in this bill. and yet, the glaring priority of the wealthy multinational corporations versus the interests of the every day working families is just in your face. unacceptable, totally unacceptable. it serves no purpose that i can identify other than to further appease another of the special interest groups so dear to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. but it does nothing for the economy of the united states of america and for the working families here. but i guess i shouldn't be surprised, because it's not the first time and i doubt it will be the last time. and mr. speaker, we can go and on and on, and i will have
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additional points that i would like to raise with regard to this omnibus bill. but my friend, my colleague from the great state of new york, congressman jeffries, has come here to share his perspective on the impact of this omnibus bill. and with that, i would like to yield to my colleague. mr. jeffries: i thank my colleague from the great state of new jersey for your tremendous leadership throughout the course of this year as it relates to presiding over the congressional progressive caucus' special order hour where week after week, you have been able to illuminate to the american people some of the challenges that we face here trying to enact policies that make sense for hardworking americans, low-income folks, middle class, for seniors, for the most vulnerable amongst us.
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just a moment i wanted to reflect on one particular aspect of the omnibus bill that i find troubling, and that is the failure to do what is necessary to help put the people of puerto rico, united states' citizens on a trajectory that will allow them to achieve some manner of economic stability moving forward. now i never practiced criminal law. i am a lawyer, but i understand there are sometimes crimes of commission, where you affirmatively do something that is damaging and crimes of omission. the greatest omission as it elates to this one -- $1.1 trillion spending bill is the failure to do anything to help deal with the economic crisis that exists right now in puerto rico. a crisis, by the way, that in
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large measure has responsibility right here in the united states of -- congress. 1996 we began a 10-year phaseout in provisions in the tax law that were put in place in order to help the economy of puerto rico. that 10-year phaseout ended in 2006. and over that period, it witnessed a dramatic disinvestment of corporate entities from the island of the mainland ward and other places. a massive number of jobs were lost. that phaseout was completed in 2006. puerto rico has been in a deep ecession ever since. every other citizen of the united states of america who
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lives in the 50 states here, lives in a municipality that has bankruptcy provisions available to it to help it restructure its debt when necessary. people of puerto rico, again as a result of a law enacted here in this chamber in 1984, have been denied bankruptcy protection. and fundamentally all the people of puerto rico were asking for is to make sure that those citizens who live on the island can be put in the same place, not better, the same place as every other united states citizen. so they can avail themselves of bankruptcy protection to enable them to restructure their debt in a way that makes sense that


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